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  Portal Shut That Door
Year: 2021
Director: Saman Kesh, Jeff Desom, Dugan O'Neal
Stars: Kathy Khanh, Julianne Collins, Aric Floyd, Rory Ann Dahl, Christopher Black, Josh Peck, Lina Esco, Dugan O'Neal, Bailee MyKell Cowperthwaite, Jordan Rock, Cru Ennis, Jordan David, Kyp Malone, Kristina Lear, Bira Vanara, Wilson Bethel, Darius Levante
Genre: Science Fiction, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: All across the world emergency services are receiving strange calls from citizens whose friends and family members are taking funny turns, wandering off into the night towards a series of portals, or so-called "doors", which have appeared mysteriously. Quite what is going on has escaped the globe, but it seems that when some people enter these doors they will never return, and their presence has created anomalies in sending birds falling from the sky and satellites crashing to the ground. As more and more people vanish into these apparitions, those left behind try to make sense of an environment that has gone completely haywire, from kids in school to explorers under instruction from the authorities to find out what they can...

Portal was originally called Doors, which could be confusing as it bears resemblance to an earlier science fiction movie from the same team named Portals (no "S" this time around). Possibly to prevent audience thinking, well, I've heard all I want to about Jim Morrison, there was a name change, but perhaps something a lot different could have been dreamt up when Portals was still available on many streaming platforms at the same time. Whatever, this confusion tended to obscure what was in effect a series of short films strung together, much in the same manner as this team's V/H/S anthology horrors, except Portal was a lot more sci-fi than anything intended to be frightening, though it appeared to be counting on the viewer growing unnerved.

It should be noted a news story around when this was being released was of the large collection of shiny, metal monoliths (for want of a better word) appearing in locations around the world, apparently a copycat prank akin to crop circles inspired by a never explained example which kicked off the craze in Utah, USA. There was nothing to indicate these had extraterrestrial origin, however, so the link to this film was probably a coincidence, and the doors did not look like those towers anyway. While the story's deliberately obscure nature rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way, as in real life, if you didn't mind getting few concrete answers to the questions of what was actually happening here, it was pretty good entertainment.

Best summed up as variations on a theme from three directors, it only really faltered in the finale, obviously shot during pandemic Lockdown as it consisted of an internet video call between two of the cast (in character). Before that we were offered the introductory tale of a group of high schoolers in a test who gradually twig there is a crisis occurring outside that is making its way inside, a group of scientists who put on spacesuits to traverse a portal in hope of investigating it, and much later, an amateur boffin who conducts his own experiments on a door in the forest, to the point of communication. With what? Some kind of alien intelligence, perhaps in the capacity of a god, you know the type of thing, science fiction has been pondering unknowable powers in the universe for decades.

And there was a pleasing sense of watching an old time genre anthology taken from the page to the screen about this. Although not huge budget, it was clear they were making the most of what they had to create an off-kilter world akin to our own shifted out of alignment with logic, and by simple use of many a trick in the indie sci-fi moviemakers' arsenal, like drone footage or clever set dressing and makeup, a genuinely strange mood was elicited. If it was not much more than a set of weird tales that asked you to be enthralled by its basic, curious stylings, if you were feeling on its wavelength there was quite a bit to appreciate, despite its scrappy quality that was smoothed over by the three directors evidently singing from the same hymn sheet. Oh, and religion was largely left out of it - it was the awe in the face of the cosmic that concerned us in this. Somewhat dubious decision to call a whole segment Knockers, on the other hand, which could well see it accused of false advertising. Music by John Beltran.

[Signature Entertainment presents Portal on Digital Platforms and DVD 19th April 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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